Lake Superior Kiyi reproductive biology

Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
By: , and 




The Lake Superior Kiyi Coregonus kiyi is an understudied species being considered for reintroduction into Laurentian Great Lakes where it no longer occurs. Herein, we provide descriptions of Kiyi reproductive biology with the intention of guiding potential gamete collections for propagation.


Data were collected on Kiyi spawning timing, spawning locations, spawning season catch rates, length at sexual maturity, sex ratios, fecundity, egg size, and larval occurrences in Lake Superior from 1996–2021. These data were compared to observations made a century prior in Lakes Michigan, Ontario, and Superior.


Contemporary Kiyi spawning occurred between late December and late January when surface water temperatures cooled to <4°C. Spawning Kiyi were caught almost exclusively in 38.1-mm stretch mesh, as compared to larger meshes (50.8–76.2 mm). Capture depths for developing, ripe, running, and spent female Kiyi were similar and ranged from 82 to 221 m. Fifty percent of female and male Kiyi were classified as sexually mature at ~150 mm total length. Fecundity estimates ranged from 1,578 to 6,720 eggs/female. Mean diameter of unfertilized eggs was 1.7 mm. Recently hatched larval Kiyi were collected at the surface during May–July at 62 of the 113 locations sampled throughout the lake in 2019.


Our work suggests that Kiyi gamete collection efforts from mid-December through January using 38.1-mm gill-net panels set at bathymetric depths of at least 100 m would maximize the collection of spawning Kiyi and reduce the bycatch of other Coregonus species. Future research questions include the following: (1) “Do Kiyi form spawning aggregations at specific spawning areas, or do they spawn indiscriminately across the lake?”; (2) “Do Kiyi spawn near the bottom or up in the water column?”; (3) “What is the relationship between fall lake overturn and Kiyi spawn timing?”; and (4) “Could summer larval and age-0 Kiyi collections provide an opportunity for establishing a captive broodstock?”

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Lake Superior Kiyi reproductive biology
Series title Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
DOI 10.1002/tafs.10389
Volume 152
Issue 1
Year Published 2023
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Great Lakes Science Center
Description 19 p.
First page 75
Last page 93
Country Canada, United States
Other Geospatial Lake Superior
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